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How To Choose the Best Bread Maker for You

Consider these five factors when choosing the best bread-maker machine for your kitchen and way of making bread.

Updated April 2020.

bread machine with sliced Honey Whole Wheat Bread sitting in front of it

Have you ever wondered which bread maker is best?

Preaching the virtues of a bread machine as I did a couple of weeks ago, is almost as easy as eating this Honey Whole Wheat Bread. On the other hand, advising people which bread maker they should buy is not so easy when you consider all the choices available.

Click here to sign up for a FREE 6-day Quick-Start email course: “Make Marvelous Bread with Your Bread Machine.”

How not to choose a bread machine

When choosing a bread maker, you could employ the “scientific” method seen below. Nobody would let a two-year-old pick a kitchen appliance. Yet, the people selling those appliances rarely have any personal experience or training about the machines they sell. You might as well be talking to a child.

Don’t waste your money buying lots of features you won’t use. On the other hand, don’t spend hard-earned cash on a machine that doesn’t do the job well.

A better approach might be to consider your baking habits, dietary preferences, and of course, your pocketbook.

picture of toddler picking a bread maker
This is probably not the best way to choose a breadmaker.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 5 ideas to get you started.

Five factors to consider when choosing a bread maker

#1

Do you need a timer?

If you like to wake up or come home to bread dough raised and ready to shape, pay attention to the timer. Nearly all machines have a timer on the various mix and bake cycles, but I like a timer on the DOUGH cycle because I ALMOST NEVER bake in my machine.

It’s possible to manually calculate when to set the timer on a bake cycle. However, you must arrive at just the right moment to pull the bread out of the machine. Otherwise, it will preheat and bake the bread.

Considering I’m not the best at math, the hand-calculated method doesn’t always work. More than once, I’ve walked into my house to the smell of a loaf of baked pizza dough. Ugh!

In the event you are home most of the time, you may not need or care about a timer.

#2

Consider the size of the bread machine pan.

If you have a large family or want to make bread when you entertain, get a machine that will hold a recipe containing at least 3 cups of flour. Some will hold up to 4 to 4-1/4 cups.

On the other hand, if you want a smaller loaf for just 2-3 people, you may want a machine with a smaller pan.  Remember, homemade bread has no preservatives and can stale quickly. Therefore, consider how fast you can eat a loaf of bread at your house.

3 pans different shape

#3

Why does the shape of the pan and the number of blades matter?

At the beginning of bread machine history, most bread machines made a loaf that was long and tall–see pan on the left above. It’s not the traditionally shaped loaf consumers are used to. Furthermore, the odd shape gave away the fact that it was baked in a bread machine.

However, manufacturers soon figured out how to build a machine that made a horizontally-shaped loaf that looked more like loaves sold at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, horizontal pans don’t always knead the dough as well, leaving unincorporated flour in the corners of the pan. Incomplete mixing is a huge negative!

In my experience, the upright configurations enable a better mixing job. HOWEVER. Since I’m not using the machine for baking the bread, the shape of the pan doesn’t matter. You may see it differently.

Conversely, some of the newer machines (see picture above) are horizontally shaped but have two blades. Two blades instead of one seem to be more effective in mixing all ingredients thoroughly.

Choosing the Right Bread Machine--Oster mixing

#4

What about the number and variety of cycles?

Bread machines with lots of different cycles do not impress me.  I want a bread machine to mix and knead the dough with a motor powerful enough to do it well.

Whether or not it makes jam or quick bread is immaterial to me.  Whole wheat cycles can be useful if you plan to bake whole wheat bread inside your machine. Consider your baking habits.

#5

Does price denote quality?

In general, the more you spend, the better the machine. No surprise there. Anybody with two bread makers will most likely tell you the more expensive model makes better bread.

Things that can go wrong, seem to happen sooner with a cheaper machine. The belts are the first thing to go in my experience.

Should I buy a machine if I’ve never made bread before?

If you are short on funds or the cautious type, consider picking up a like-new machine at a garage sale or on eBay. My daughter-in-law recently bought a good machine at a garage sale for 5$. Even better, borrow one from friends who never use theirs to see how you like it first.

Why did I choose my bread maker?

My personal favorite is a Zojirushi, BB-CEC20.  It has a timer on the dough cycle and two blades to mix and knead the dough thoroughly.

The pan will hold up to 4 1/4 cups flour or do smaller batches as well. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive bread machines out there. But it’s worth it to me since I use it nearly every week.

You may already have a bread machine you don’t like or don’t use. Don’t chuck it yet. Your bread maker may not be perfect, but a little practice and a good recipe can make a huge difference. Stick with me.

If you own and love your bread machine, tell me what you have and what you like about it. What is the most important feature to you when it comes to this fabulous kitchen appliance?

So that you know, I have not been paid or compensated in any way to say anything about any bread machine. My credentials are years of experience making bread with and without a bread machine, a Home Economics degree, and a bread machine cookbook collection the size of Texas.


Posts related to using a bread machine


If you have a question or problem you need help with, please write it in the comment section below so I can respond back. You can also email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula

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Caroline

Monday 10th of August 2020

Can you use a recipe on any cycle and pull it out to bake in the oven once you figure out when the baking is supposed to start ?

Paula

Monday 10th of August 2020

Hi Caroline,

Yes, you can. But, it's best to use the Dough cycle. Whenever you pull the dough out of the machine, it will probably deflate. You will have to reshape it and let it rise again, then bake. If you use any other cycle and pull it out just before it's ready to bake, it's possible your yeast will run out of steam, depending on the recipe. This would lead to short, dense loaves.

Linda

Monday 13th of July 2020

I have a Panasonic bread machine and it has a basic dough selection that I use to make pizza dough. It has a yeast dispenser that adds the Instant yeast at the appropriate time. I notice that all the recipes for making bread here are putting the yeast directly in the pan. Is there a reason for doing this or can I just put everything else in and put the yeast in the dispenser as usual. Please advise.

Paula

Monday 13th of July 2020

Linda, What a good question! Without having actually used a Panasonic machine, I would guess you can do either. As long as the dispenser works for you, keep doing it. Most bread machines don't have a dispenser and they work quite well, too.

William LeGro

Monday 4th of November 2019

I bought a Zojirushi BB-PDC20BA a few months ago after years of very reliable frustration with my Oster (which walked off the counter one day, but still worked). Frustrated with the Zoji too, but at least it turns out better loaves. I bake only whole wheat, and found the Zoji recipes almost useless in their measurements. Despite carefully using weight not volume I was getting dough that was so wet that it divided into two wet balls - I was often cancelling and starting over and having to add flour, and not just a tablespoon, more like a quarter-cup or more. so have had to experiment wildly, taking something from one recipe and something from another and something from the Oster book and my mother-in-law's ancient Betty Crocker cookbook that my wife inherited and something I think I might have learned online maybe back when the Internet was like dial-up and a hard drive was 42 megabytes (or was that maybe a recipe for pulled chicken?), and a lot from my intuition (which is basically how I cook).

I do add ingredients in the order recommended, most of the time, well, some of the time, depending on how rebellious I'm feeling or how well my CPAP worked last night, never knowing why the order is so vital because when I've forgotten something and have to add it out of order it doesn't seem to make a difference. Nor does it make much difference if I go by weight or volume of ingredients - I've always fluffed up the flour before scooping it anyway. I think the people who create the recipes might have control issues.

My dough may be a bit too dry most of the time - better than too wet for my purposes. I like that the Zoji has a homemade course where I can set the kneading up to 30 minutes and the rising up to I don't know but I use 1 hour for each of the 3 rises. After the second I take the dough out and reshape it if the punch down has been too punchy and take out the blades.

The machine wants me to wait till it beeps loudly like Manhattan taxi cabs to add seeds, but I gave up on that routine pretty quickly - it would knead only about 5 minutes after that and I just wanted the seeds incorporated more so I dump them in (about twice what the recipe demands) once the dough is pretty well mixed early in the kneading cycle - I found that the machine is happy if all I do is open and close the lid when it beeps, cutting the beeps way down depending on how fast I get to the machine - that's all it really wants, subconsciously, doesn't really care if I add the seeds whenever, just wants to be noticed.

After several failed loaves (edible but not pleasingly so) and email exchanges with Zoji (very nice people, and patient!), the support lady - who actually talked with the makers of the sprouted whole wheat flour I use and was having problems with - she passed on their suggestion that since sprouted whole wheat is even heavier than regular whole wheat, I should try a dough enhancer. Which I'd never heard of. Well, it worked - once I learned that too much makes for a kind of fragile loaf, I'm now getting pretty good loaves every time. Now I usually mix some sprouted WW with white whole wheat and it tastes great, especially with all the flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds I throw in.

I wish the machine had a countdown for each of the cycles because I invariably forget to set my own timer.

whoa! didn't mean to run on like this - I guess you can tell I don't get out much...thanks for your site and I'm going to try the bake in the oven method - I bake bread every Sunday.

Brownbread

Tuesday 30th of April 2019

Hello,

I purchased an upright Cuisinart bread machine because of budget constraints. I wanted a horizontal Zojirushi with two paddles, but alas my budget didn’t stretch that far.

I’m having problems making a 100% whole wheat loaf from start to finish in the bread machine; they keep on collapsing whilst baking. These are my observations from using the bread machine:

1. The heat source is from the base, and whilst the base of the dough will bake the rest of the dough just waits until the heat rises to bake the top. 2. Whole wheat dough is denser than white dough. 3. Without an all over heat source the top of the loaf cannot cook and set at the same time as the base of the loaf. 4. By the time the heat has reached the top, the yeast has died and the dough collapses, and the yeast cannot be resurrected to re-inflate the dough!

Your tips and hints are great, and I’ve come to the conclusion that either I have to continue looking for my holy grail recipe, or there are too many variables that makes baking a 100% whole wheat loaf in my bread machine too temperamental, and that I might have to concede and bake it in a conventional oven.

Thanks.

Janet G

Friday 2nd of October 2020

@Paula, thank you so much for the information on bread machines. I recently purchased the Cuisanart convection, I had grandeur of making all these artisan breads. I was getting so frustrated, they came out like a little bowling and weighted as much, lol. Also what a pain to have remove the paddle after the bread is baked. My old machine removing the pedal wasn’t a problem So Glad I read this, very helpful

Paula

Tuesday 30th of April 2019

Hi Brownbread, I can hear your frustration. Are you using a recipe from the Cuisinart manual? I would recommend you stick with a recipe proven to work in their bread machine until you have some success. A 100% whole wheat loaf is always going to be an advanced bread-baking skill. As you might know, I don't care for any bread baked in a bread machine, and would encourage you to "concede" and bake your loaf in a conventional oven. I prefer to let the machine do what it does best--mix and knead the dough. After that, I hijack the process because of all the variables that come into play when baking bread.

Anin

Sunday 30th of December 2018

Hi, I love your post here and I was wondering if you ever review a dough maker. I found one like this https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ty6o85ZpA8

Paula

Sunday 30th of December 2018

Anin, I learn so many things from my readers. This is the first time I've seen this. However, it's clearly a bread machine without the baking function. Love it!!! I only use my bread machine to make dough so this would be perfect...and hopefully less expensive. I don't see it on Amazon. Do they sell it in USA? When I search for "dough maker", all I see are bread machines.